Are you designing the signage for your own business or for a client of yours and need help picking out suitable fonts?
If you're not bound by the requirements of a corporate style guide or signage style guide, it can sometimes be difficult to pick a font that reads well and is consistent with your aesthetics. Luckily there are a few simple rules to remember that will help you create beautiful, legible signage that reads well and reflects your level of professionalism!
Keep it simple
Signage needs to be clear and concise, and has to communicate a whole lot in a very small amount of time and space. Simple fonts, whether they're sans serif or serif fonts, tend to work better than decorative fonts with big loops and flourishes that can be hard to read. Legibility is important.
The same goes for selected colours. While the go-to colour scheme should always be appropriate for the brand you're representing, you need to ensure that whatever colours you use will be easy to read by the viewer.
Consider the production method
A lot of designers tend to think only about what looks good on screen, and forget that whatever is being designed needs to be replicated in real-world applications. Think about what the purpose of the sign is, and what it's being made out of.
If you're doing fabricated illuminated lettering, the stroke width of your letters needs to be wide enough to accommodate the thickness of the material it's being made of, the physical LED modules, plus enough space to ensure the LEDs don't produce hotspots. Simply, thick text also works better as it reads more clearly, and is more likely to be possible to be fabricated.
You also don't necessarily have to use a font with ink traps, especially when doing fabricated signs or laser/router cut block lettering where these simple become a nuisance that will have to be eliminated in order to successfully produce the sign.
Avoid using too many fonts
Unless you're purposefully designing a poster that features typography, you'll want to avoid using too many different fonts. Sticking to a single font family in a couple of weights for any headers and title text, and one easy-to-read font for bulk / body copy is important. First of all it helps to reinforce brand association, and helps maintain consistency across your project. This is why style guides always include specific fonts for use.
Think about your viewing distance
What's the purpose of your sign? If you're designing a fascia that people will be viewing from across the street or while in a car, there's no point in making your font size tiny and illegible, or super thin / light weight that cannot actually be read at a distance or while in a moving vehicle. Road signs are plain, bold and simple for a reason.
So there you have it! These are the basic things to keep in mind when working on the typography of your sign. If in doubt, you can always rely on your sign company for assistance.